I left a big, big element out of my plea to get my 312 hours, or 39 days back. I just wrote about the direct time that is lost to hunting for stuff. The bigger time waster is in what happens to my focus.
Here I am keyboarding away happily. Shall we say, brilliantly? I need to check the quote in the article that inspired me to write. If it is on the desk, it is at my finger tips. I simply flip to the page I need and sail on with my central thought.
Ah, but it is not on the desk. I don’t like to file.  It is not going to be easily retrieved from a known location. Well, where is it? The search begins. My progress on my writing stops. It more than stopped. It is completely derailed. I am not even doing the same kind of thinking.
I have switched from an integration mode of bringing many different elements into a single piece of writing. I am now in a totally different thought mode. I am trying to recall where I put it.  I am looking around trying to spot it. My focus on the article is gone. My focus is now bouncing back and forth between remembering and searching.
It typically takes a human 15 minutes to focus on a task. That number is the same for refocusing after switching off a task. 15 minutes is a significant time loss. Just once a day is 105 minutes a week. That is 11.3 days a year.
Let’s say I would pay myself $25 an hour for what I am doing when I stop to look for something. The once a day loss of focus and time to refocus costs $25 x 11.3 days x 8 hours = $2,260. That probably happens more often than once a day.
Looking at a mess distracts my mind. If there is a bowl of fruit in the middle of my butcher block counter, it looks like it belongs there. The sight comforts me. If there are empty pizza boxes, zip lock bag boxes, spray cans, honey jars, library books, etc. on it, the sight distracts me. It breaks my focus.
I decided to invest some of my time in organizing. I am clearing the clutter that hides stuff. I am creating empty surfaces will make my mind quiet. I am filing both paper and digital documents. I am going to get those hours and dollars back .  I am making  a very small investment.
If the idea of doing this overwhelms you, or if you just know you will never do it, contact my friend, Connie Ellefson.

She will not only do it for you.  She will work out a maintenance schedule to come back and set right what we all let slide. You can reach her through her blog  http://clearthespace.com/blog/  The blog has great tips.

If you are lucky and live in the Denver, CO area, you can hire Connie to clear your space. If you are too far away for her, she can help you find an organizer.


Every year someone steals 312 hours from the average American.  Who would do such a thing?  Well, the average American is the thief of 39 days of their own time!  If you are self employed you might compare that to the 10 days of vacation you never seem to take.

Right now I am losing some of my 6 hours for this week.  I am losing it looking for a telephone number that I know I wrote on the back of a receipt. I almost know where I put that receipt.  Almost. That’s how we lose 6 hours a week.  We lose it “looking for things.” Can you imagine that?

The funny thing about the missing number is when it has gone missing while.  I am in the midst of clearing, cleaning and rearranging my office.  The thing that is not funny is that it is an opportunity to speak at a business expo and I need to nail down the interview location.

In my house one of our favorite ways to use up our time is to put something down, like the car keys. Then put something on top of it.  My wife and I are both people who have many projects in progress.  The opportunities to put things on top of the keys are almost unlimited.   We take advantage of it.

One of our problems is that neither of us has much energy for routine.  Neither one of us likes process and repetition.  We have lots of
quick decision making energy.  Linda has lots of energy with which to meet new people, but she wants the process, or the journey, to be fun.  I have gobs of analytical energy. I am good at developing the perfect process for storing and retrieving things.  Did I mention that I wasn’t any good at following process?

I still want my time back.  That means I am going to have to stop stealing from myself.  Why do we lose our car keys?  Because we have only one car key!  Most people keep their keys in their pocket or purse.  At the end of the day they empty their pockets by their bed.  The
solution is one more car key.

Our average car key search is 5 minutes, twice a day.  That’s seventy minutes a week.  That’s 3,640 minutes, 60 hours or 2.5 weeks a
year!  Thanks, I’ll take it.

If you want that 312 hours a year back, but have no time to organize, contact my friend, Connie Ellefson of Clear the Space, Inc.  You can reach her through her blog, http://clearthespace.com/blog/  The blog has great tips.  If you are lucky and live in the Denver, CO area, you can hire Connie to clear your space.  If you are too far away for her, she can help you find an organizer.


Imagine a disease offering clues to how we read emotions!
Michele Solis in the July 4, 2011 online issue of Scientific American Mind magazine writes about the connection. Experiments show that we actually feel the moods that others express with “micro expressions. “ Micro expressions are primarily facial expressions that are so quick that we do not consciously see them.
Micro clues in others facial expressions and gestures light up areas in our brain. They light up the areas that process those feelings. We do the same to others. A study in the Journal of Neuroscience in February bolsters this idea. Observers watched rare individuals with “mirror-touch synesthesia.” When watching another individual being touched, these people actually feel a touch on the same part of their own body.
Ah, so what? This has tremendous implications for communication, speaking, listening and signaling. Look at the mood communication. The micro signals communicate directly with the areas in our brain that feel those moods. They bypass the areas of our brain that perform the logical interpretation. If the signals are sad and the talk is happy, we sense something wrong.
What this suggests is that we are not very good at fooling people. When our signals or our words contradict our micro expressions people see it. A poker face is not the answer. A poker face tries to shut down the micro signals. The contradiction remains. The signals do not support the spoken mood. Flat monotonous speech accompanied by no signals says there is no feeling here. In a normal person there always is some feeling.
This suggests a couple of things. First, and most important, we ought to tell the truth since we are not wired to lie well. Second, we should be alert to contradiction between what is spoken and what is signaled. Third, we should be alert to contradiction between the slow obvious signals and the mood we are actually feeling. Fourth, we ought to find a way to fix sending sad signals when we are feeling sad, angry signals when we are feeling angry, etc.
There is a solution. The first step is considering whether you want to share your misery. If you do want to share the misery, say so! Say, “You know, I feel really bad today.”
If you don’t want to share the misery, there is an answer. Get over it! You can use the reverse effect of having the signals create the mood. You can change your personal signals that you can control. You can smile. It lights up the brain area that feels good moods. You can speak cheerful greetings. They light up your brain as well as those you greet. This does not remove the problem causing your mood. It breaks your concentration on it.
I have a suggestion about using this method with an extra benefit. Do the smiling and greeting that is an effort to change your mood in public. This lets you get by with brief smiles. You cheerful greetings don’t require more conversation. You avoid a conversation in which you have conflicting moods until you shift yourself into a good mood. Bonus, you brighten many others’ days on your path to a better mood.